Major Italian cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice are obviously the first places you should head to when visiting Italy for the first time. However, that being said, it is also absolutely recommended to dedicate some extra time to exploring a couple of smaller, possibly less-known, towns. Boot-shaped Italy’s coastline is many hundreds of kilometers long, dotted with picturesque bays, beautiful beaches, hidden inlets and imposing cliffs. There are several, dozens in fact, gorgeous Italian coastal towns that are worth visiting.
Let’s take a look at the (subjective) most stunning towns on the Italian coast.
Gorgeous Italian Coastal Towns
Positano is a coastal town perched on the steep hillsides of the breathtaking Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. This is arguably the most spectacular stretch of coastline in the world, although Cinque Terre is a capable rival (see below). Positano is a popular vacation retreat, home to beaches, amazing restaurants and narrow boutique-lined streets.
Featuring a rugged landscape of rocks, cliffs and hills, the island of Capri lies in the Gulf of Naples. The island’s main town, also named Capri, is renowned for being a favored holiday destination among the rich and famous. It’s been a resort island since as early as Roman times and continues to be incredibly popular to this day.
The small island of Burano lies in the Venetian Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is possibly the most colorful place on earth. All houses and buildings on the island, mostly fisherman’s houses, shops and restaurants, are painted in the brightest of colors. Burano makes for a strongly recommended day trip when staying in Venice—a truly spectacular town.
Of the three Aegadian Islands, Levanzo is the smallest. It is situated to the west of Sicily and home to a beautiful white and beige town. The water of the town’s harbor, which is filled with small boats, is crystal-clear. This off-the-beaten-track destination is absolutely stunning.
Manarola is the second-smallest, but often considered to be the most beautiful, of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre on the northwest coast of Italy. This historic fishing village is perched on the steep coastal cliffs that characterize the area—an area of such cultural and natural significance that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated in the province of Genoa in the Italian Rivièra, the town of Portofino is a favored vacation retreat among wealthy people—Italians and foreigners alike. Consisting of beautifully colorful houses that line the waterfront, this charming town makes for a wonderful day trip.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is on the Adriatic coast in southern Italy, in the province of Bari. Built on a steep rocky coastline, several meters above the water, and made up of white and gray buildings, this is one of the most extraordinary coastal towns in Italy.
Vernazza is another of the five Cinque Terre towns. There are no roads leading into this jaw-dropping town—it is reached by either boat or train. It’s regarded as one of the last real surviving fishing villages in the Italian Rivièra, a downright spectacular place to visit. It is advised to combine all five villages in Cinque Terre in one trip, as they are all quite stunning.
Scilla is a pretty little town in Calabria, located at the tip of the Italian boot. This small coastal town is dominated by the Ruffo Castle, a stronghold erected by the Dukes of Calabria that commands an amazing view of the beach. Scilla is also the place where the Greek mythical sea monster Scylla lived.